We provide trawls and protocols for citizen scientists to collect data on marine plastic pollution, raise awareness about this important issue, and contribute to a more robust global dataset. The information we receive from citizen scientists and partners like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd is used to update our Global Estimate of Marine Plastic Pollution. This program provides a unique hands-on experience to carry out research that is essential to the 5 Gyres mission. Want to borrow a trawl? Read on!

Being able to participate in citizen science gives Sea Shepherd Australia’s Marine Debris Campaign an opportunity to further educate and involve the public on plastic pollution in our oceans.  Research is a vitally important tool and we are privileged to have a manta trawl to contribute to the global dataset.  Our founder Paul Watson says ‘If the Ocean dies we die’ and we need the research for this very reason!”  - Liza Dicks, Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Program Manager

By participating in the TrawlShare program, HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM US:

  • Use of a proprietary 5 Gyres trawl, valued at $3,000, for up to one year.
  • Access to protocols for using the trawl to collect data.
  • Inclusion of your data in our Global Estimate of Marine Plastic Pollution.
  • A direct connection to 5 Gyres staff for quick response to any questions.

As a TrawlShare participant, HERE’S WHAT WE EXPECT FROM YOU:

  • We aim to collect 300 data points by the end of 2018 and need you to contribute to the data set! Data collected will be included in our Global Estimate of Marine Plastic Pollution
  • Follow our Trawl Protocols to ensure that your data meets our specifications.
  • Pay for shipping the trawl from Los Angeles to your location at the onset of the program. (To estimate shipping costs here are average dimension/weights: 13 inches X 22 inches X 29 inches, 41 pounds. Within US $100-$150USD, outside US $500-$600USD)
  • Properly maintain the trawl during the time that you use it, including making any necessary repairs, so that it may immediately be used by the next participant.

  • Agree to pay $500 if you damage the trawl, and $3,000 if you do not return the trawl.
  • Establish a public social media account (Twitter or Instagram) and the ability to connect remotely from your boat.
  • Communicate weekly (at minimum) through social media, including photos and information on data collection, using the #5GyresTrawlShare hashtag.
  • Pay and organize shipping to another location or back to Los Angeles when your participation in the program has concluded.


What is a trawl? We have two types of trawls, both designed by 5 Gyres Research Director and Co-Founder Dr. Marcus Eriksen, shown in the video above. The Manta Trawl is 1.5 meters wide, made of aluminum with a 3 meters long, fine-mesh net. The mouth of the trawl is 60 centimeters wide, with two 45 centimeter floating wings on either side. Available in 2018, the High Speed Mini Trawl is smaller than the Manta and designed to skim the water's surface at higher speeds, up to 8 knots. It has a 14 centimeter wide opening with two 50 centimeter wide wings. Both trawls can be towed alongside a boat or stationed in a river to capture floating plastic on the water's surface while filtering debris through a fine-mesh net.

How is a trawl deployed? You will need to rig a spinnaker pole off the beam of your boat so that you can tow the trawl on the water's surface without disturbance from your wake; you can also deploy the trawl from a bridge above a river. We will provide you with data collection protocols.

Do I need a permit to trawl for plastic pollution? It depends. Permits are not required in the open ocean, outside of the Exclusive Economic Zone (200 miles from shoreline). However, there may be other permit requirements. 5 Gyres is not responsible for obtaining permits, but we can help you navigate the process.

How long will it take to receive a trawl? We'll notify you once we have received your application, and will let you know if there is a trawl available or where you are on the waiting list to receive one.


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